While Ph.D. scholarships are often more difficult to come by than undergraduate or graduate scholarship opportunities, they play a crucial role in helping doctoral students earn an advanced degree. Some schools offer stipends, pay living expenses, and promise work opportunities to Ph.D. candidates. However, the average doctoral student needs support by way of scholarships for doctoral students and grants to help pay for college.

A recent study by the National Science Foundation (NSF) reported that nearly half of all doctorate recipients are in debt when they graduate; combine this with many students' inability to work full time while they are earning their doctorate and it is understandable why Ph.D. scholarships are a necessity for graduate students.

Additionally, some students are required to earn a Ph.D. to pursue a career in their field of choice. Psychiatrists, postsecondary teachers, judges, and lawyers among others are just some examples of professions for which a doctorate or professional degree is the minimum education requirement for employment. As an incentive for doctoral students who may be missing out on generating income while studying, many doctoral scholarships are offered by organizations that support mental health professionals, STEM researchers, and other fields that require a Ph.D., in hopes of recruiting graduates with an advanced education and relevant work experience. Many Ph.D. candidates in research and academia are required to further postpone their careers by completing a temporary postdoctoral training period before they are eligible for full-time employment.

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Eligibility Requirements

Like all scholarships, eligibility requirements for doctoral scholarships vary according to program. Because Ph.D. scholarships attract individuals with strong academic records and years of experience in higher education, awards at this level of study generally prioritize subject, industry, heritage and employment over academic merit or financial need. The most common sources of doctoral scholarships tend to be corporations, government agencies and professional organizations. Some doctoral scholarships come with employment commitments, along with other eligibility factors including:

  • Eligible for doctoral study
  • Meet specific undergraduate GPA or other academic requirements
  • Pursuing a field of study related to the scholarship
  • Considering employment with the scholarship's provider
  • Alumnus of the relevant college or university
  • Legal U.S. resident status
  • Agree to work for the scholarship provider for a specific period of time

The above list includes examples of common eligibility requirements and does not apply to all scholarships; some awards will have highly-specific and unique specifications not listed above. It is always a good idea to review eligibility requirements carefully before applying for and accepting any doctoral scholarship.

Ph.D. Scholarships Available Now

ACS Cancer Nursing Scholarship

  • Amount: $15,000
  • Deadline: October 15

The American Cancer Society offers this scholarship to doctoral students for two years at a time, with the option to renew the gift for two more years after the initial award period. Preferred recipients are studying to be nursing scientists in the field of cancer nursing research.

CaGIS Doctoral Scholarship Award

  • Amount: $1,500
  • Deadline: January 20

Courtesy of the Cartography and Geographic Information Society (CaGIS), this scholarship is awarded to one student each year who demonstrates skill in the use of GIS or cartography and shows promise for a career in the field. In addition to supplying research, academic, and service records of their experience in this field, applicants must be nominated by a current member of CaGIS.

Jean Hankin Nutritional Epidemiology Research Grant

  • Amount: $10,000
  • Deadline: April 17

Among many research Ph.D. scholarships offered through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Hankin grant is awarded to doctoral students preparing a dissertation in nutritional epidemiology. Applicants must be registered dieticians and proposed research must be completed within two years of receiving the award.

EAA Doctoral Scholarship

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: Ongoing, year-round

The Educational Audiology Association awards at least one scholarship per year to a practicing educational audiologist pursuing a doctoral degree, and who is working to promote awareness and research initiatives in the field of audiology.

Foundation for Physical Therapy Scholarships

  • Amount: $5,000-$15,000
  • Deadline: Varies

The Foundation for Physical Therapy offers three scholarships for Ph.D. students specifically designed to help fund study in the field of physical therapy. The Florence P. Kendall Post-Professional Doctoral Scholarship, the Promotion of Doctoral Studies (PODS) I Scholarship, and the Promotion of Doctoral Studies (PODS) II Scholarship are awarded to first-year, coursework-phase, and post-candidacy-phase students, respectively.

Kappa Delti Pi Doctoral Scholarships

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: May 1

Kappa Delta Pi offers several Ph.D. scholarships in various amounts for candidates pursuing Ph.D.s across numerous educational disciplines, in addition to awards for students at all levels of study. Some scholarships are available only to those attending specific institutions. All applicants must be active member of Kappa Delta Pi.

KPMG Foundation Minority Accounting Doctoral Scholarships

  • Amount: $10,000
  • Deadline: May 1

The KPMG Peat Marwick Foundation provides this award to minority doctoral students in accounting program at Penn State's Smeal College of Business. The scholarship is renewable for up to five years of study and is awarded to up to 15 students each year. Recipients receive teaching and research assistantships provided by the institution, as well as waived tuition and fees.

NDSEG Fellowships

  • Amount: $102,000
  • Deadline: December 9

Already among the most competitive portable scholarship programs for doctoral students in science and engineering fields, the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship added 180 new three-year graduate fellowships in April 2017. Ph.D. students pursuing one of 15 professions related to the Department of Defense, including civil engineering, biosciences, oceanography, and more, are eligible to apply. The award is renewable for three years and includes full tuition and fees, a monthly stipend, and up to $1,000 per year for medical insurance coverage.

NLN Foundation for Nursing Education Scholarship

  • Amount: Up to $8,000
  • Deadline: May 31

The National League for Nursing is the only membership organization in the U.S. to offer Ph.D. scholarships specifically for nurse educators. The award is aimed at not only contributing to a diverse workforce of nurse educators by helping master's and doctoral students enter the field, but also in advancing the cause within the global community.

ONS Foundation Doctoral Scholarships

  • Amount: $5,000 and $7, 500
  • Deadline: February 1

The Oncology Nursing Society Foundation awards numerous scholarships for doctoral students each year to registered nurses who are interested in returning to school to pursue research or clinical practice at the doctoral level in oncology nursing.

SMART Scholarship

  • Amount: $25,000-$38,000
  • Deadline: December 1

Short for Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation, the SMART Scholarship for Service Program awards tuition to students at all levels of study, including Ph.D. students, in one of 19 STEM-related areas of study. Recipients receive a full scholarship towards tuition and fees, a health insurance allowance, and an additional stipend for personal expenses. Additionally, recipients are guaranteed job placement with the Department of Defense (DoD) upon graduation from their respective degree program.

The New Century Scholars Doctoral Scholarships

  • Amount: $10,000
  • Deadline: May 9

Each year, the American Speech-Language-Hearing (ASH) Foundation's Dreams and Possibilities Campaign awards Ph.D. scholarships of $10,000 to up to 15 doctoral candidates with promising academic records who are committed to pursuing academic careers in communication sciences fields.

University of Louisville Special Education Doctoral Scholarships

  • Amount: Varies
  • Deadline: February 15

Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the University of Louisville offers scholarships for Ph.D. students studying special education with a focus in response to intervention (RTI) or Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). The scholarship includes full tuition, a stipend of $1,500 per month for living expenses, and travel funds for the student to attend an annual national conference for field professionals.